This might be the one weakness in the otherwise unbeatable Alberto Contador that Lance Armstrong has been searching for. An Achilles heel, the soft underbelly, the chink in the lycra.
The Texan admits he can’t beat him in the time trials or the high mountains. He’s discovered Contador is immune to the psychological warfare and mind games that worked so well on other riders.
Armstrong and Radio Shack manager Johan Bruyneel stripped Contador’s Astana team roster and still the Spaniard continues to rack up wins in Paris-Nice and Volta ao Algarve.
But Contador’s weakness was on full display in the recent Criterium International. On the tough Ospedale climb he quickly lost a minute to his top rivals. No race fan or director sportif could miss the screaming day-glo message: Alberto Contador can’t handle pollen. It’s his kryptonite.
“It’s been a hard day. I couldn’t breathe anymore,” said Contador after the stage. “Nobody is unbeatable.”
Translation: an eighth Tour de France win for Armstrong, a mind blogging victory, legend piled on legend. A veritable maillot jaune-apolooza. Yes, this is sweet music to Armstrong’s ears and his brain trust is already working 24/7 to create a pollen plan of attack.
Pollen spreader technology is already highly developed and there are any number of scenarios that would destroy Contador, reducing him to a gasping, sneezing, watery-eyed rider with a VO2 minimum.
It’s possible the pollen blasting machine could be housed in the Radio Shack team car. It would be a simple matter to pull along side the unsuspecting Spaniard and hit him with a pollen-saturated dose. The negative effects would be immediate and disastrous for the Astana man.
Another scenario would be to set up the pollen spreaders at the top of a major climb. Once Contador reaches the summit, he’d be greeted with a lethal amount of pollen, conceivably enough to cover his entire body with the powdered plague.
Lance Armstrong would roll down the Champs Elysees with an astounding eighth tour victory while Contador would be laying inside a hospital oxygen tent fighting for his next breath.
Sure, it’s a wild conspiracy theory. But who could doubt that the hyper competitive and relentlessly aggressive Armstrong isn’t toying with the idea.
Knowing Armstrong as he does, Alberto Contador can’t be breathing easy.